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NATIONAL 'Drag Fest,' eating disorders, journalist attacked, NCLR event
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-05-27

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Political activist/New York City drag staple Marti Gould Cummings and The Only Productions announced the largest digital drag festival during Pride 2020, a press release noted. More than 100 performers are scheduled to appear during "Pride 2020 Drag Fest," an official event of NYC Pride and supported by national LGBTQ advocacy organization GLAAD. The virtual performances will run each day 5:30-7 p.m. CT on June 19-21. Performers slated to appear during "Pride 2020 Drag Fest" include Heidi N. Closet, Nicky Doll, Shuga Cain, Brita Filter, Milk, Honey Davenport, Sherry Vine, Shequida, Pixie Aventura, Horrorchata and more. See https://www.nycpride.org/events/pride-2020-dragfest.

A new study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders finds that eating disorder patients who identify as LGBT have more severe eating disorder symptoms, higher rates of trauma history, and longer delays between diagnosis and treatment than heterosexual, cisgender patients, PR Newswire noted. "While we know there is a higher prevalence of eating disorders among LGBTQ folks, particularly trans and non-binary folks ( with rates estimated to be anywhere from 40 percent to 70 percent ), our field is in its infancy with researching this health disparity, so I believe research like ours is especially important" said clinical psychologist Jennifer Henretty, Ph.D., CEDS, one of the study's co-authors. The full article is at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/eat.23257.

Matt Belanger, a regional Emmy-winning news reporter from Minnesota, may have been the victim of an anti-gay hate crime and is at risk of permanent damage to his vision, LGBTQ Nation reported. In a video, Belanger said that he was waiting to take a train to work on the morning of May 12 when he was attacked by an unknown man. He was taken to the hospital where he was told that he suffered a corneal and ocular abrasion, which could result in permanent vision damage; he also had internal bleeding. Using security camera footage, police arrested Vennie Jerome Williams, 39, in connection to the assault. According to Out, police said that Williams "made statements indicating that he assaulted [Belanger] because he perceived that [he] was homosexual" while he was in custody.

The National Center of Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) announced that it will honor San Francisco 49ers offensive assistant coach Katie Sowers with its Trailblazer Award—presented by pro-athlete and transgender activist Chris Mosier—at the NCLR 2020 Anniversary Virtual Celebration on Saturday, May 30, at 6 p.m. PT, a press release noted. Also being recognized during the annual celebration livestream event will be actress and comedian Gina Yashere, who will be receiving the LGBTQ legal nonprofit's Voice and Visibility Award, presented by comedian Dana Goldberg. The all-virtual event, the first in the organization's 43-year history, will welcome NCLR's new executive director, Imani Rupert-Gordon, at her first anniversary celebration since joining the NCLR staff in March.

In what it's calling a historic first, Equality Utah hosted a forum with all four Republican candidates for governor to talk about issues impacting the state's LGBTQ community, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. "Ten years ago, even five years ago, we would never have seen a moment when Republican candidates vying to become governor would join a forum hosted by Equality Utah," said Troy Williams, the organization's executive director, during the forum. "But the world is changing and, in red states, Utah is leading the way." Each of the Republican contenders—Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., former House Speaker Greg Hughes and former state GOP Chair Thomas Wright—has helped "move the state forward on LGBTQ issues," Equality Utah said in a news release announcing the event.

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell plans to step down from his post, The Washington Blade reported. On Twitter, he confirmed a German media report that said he will formally leave the ambassadorship in a "few weeks." Fox News reported Grenell, in March, told the White House he planned to step down as ambassador once his tenure as acting director of national intelligence came to an end. Grenell is one of five openly gay ambassadors under the Trump administration.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) unveiled its latest House and Senate endorsements, The Hill reported. In the Senate, the group endorsed Kansas State Sen. Barbara Bollier ( D ) and former North Carolina state Sen. Cal Cunningham ( D ) in their U.S. Senate races, as well as incumbent Sens. Dick Durbin ( D-Illinois ), Mark Warner ( D-Virginia ), and Jeanne Shaheen ( D-New Hampshire ). In the House, the group has endorsed a number of Democratic lawmakers facing uphill re-election bids, including Reps. Abby Finkenauer ( Iowa ) and Joe Cunningham ( South Carolina ), and Virginia Reps. Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger. HRC previously endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

Also, the HRC hosted a virtual faith service with Muslims for Progressive Values: "Remaining Home in Faith: Virtual Iftar," a media release noted. The service featured HRC President Alphonso David, Blair Imani, Imam Abdullah Antepli and HRC Religion & Faith Program Director Michael Vazquez. Vazquez said, in part, "During the COVID-19 health crisis, it has been crucial to create spaces for LGBTQ people of faith to virtually gather and be spiritually nourished. Creating this space today allowed for rich conversations between LGBTQ Muslims and allies about Islam's ethic of justice, love and inclusion." The video can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJ3zNPgQWZY.

An attorney for Rachel Maddow asked a San Diego judge to throw out a defamation suit brought by One America News ( OAN ), the conservative network frequently cited by President Donald Trump, Variety reported. Herring Networks, the corporate parent of OAN, filed the suit last September, alleging that Maddow defamed them when she said the network "really literally is paid Russian propaganda." Maddow was referring to a July 22, 2019, report in the Daily Beast, which revealed that an OAN contributor was also on the payroll of Sputnik, the Kremlin-owned news site.

By a two-vote margin, the Pennsylvania House rejected protections for gender identity and sexual orientation when it comes to employment discrimination, PA Post reported. State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta ( D-Philadelphia )—the first openly gay person of color to serve in the General Assembly—proposed the amendment, which would have made it illegal for sportsmans clubs to discriminate against employees on the basis of age, race, sex, religion, ethnic origin, economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability. While the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission has indicated that it would interpret the state's human-relations law as prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, that guidance is not legally binding.

Several dozen members of Reclaim Pride, Rise and Resist, and Reverend Billy Talen's Stop Shopping Choir turned out in Central Park to "cleanse" the area left by the hospital tents that had been established there by anti-LGBTQ pastor Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse, AM NY noted. Facing increased pressure from LGBTQ activists and elected officials, Graham, an anti-LGBTQ and anti-Muslim extremist, announced May 2 that his charity would leave the park and end its relationship with Mount Sinai-Beth Israel Hospital. The announcement came two days after Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed "concern" when asked by Gay City News about Samaritan Purse's use of images of doctors ministering to Central Park COVID-19 patients on its online fundraising page.

San Francisco's oldest gay bar announced it is closing its doors for good, Out.com noted. First opened in 1966 and famed thereafter for its drag shows, art motel and other live performances, The Stud had planned to open May 1—but the continuing economic lockdown made it impossible to stay afloat. In true Stud fashion, however, the bar announced plans for "a drag funeral to honor the end of an era of LGBT nightlife."

On May 23, Campus Pride ( in partnership with PFLAG National ) hosted a national "Lavender Graduation" for LGBTQ+ and ally graduates of the Class of 2020 to celebrate and honor their achievements, a press release noted. This free, live streaming event featured commencement remarks from openly LGBTQ+ U.S. Congressmembers Sharice Davids and Chris Pappas; Major League Baseball Vice President of Social Responsibility and Inclusion Billy Bean; and Ronni Sanlo, founder of the Lavender Graduation movement. More than a dozen LGBTQ-inclusive colleges and universities were spotlighted during the program, alongside the aspirations of the Class of 2020 LGBTQ+ and ally college graduates.

Skittles is giving up its rainbow now through the end of June to support and celebrate the LGBTQ community and highlight that only #OneRainbow matters during Pride month, a press release announced. The packs have a colorless design with colorless candies inside but feature the original Five Fruity Flavors that fans know: strawberry, orange, grape, green apple and lemon. This is the first time in the United States the brand will be launching its "Give the Rainbow" campaign. ( In previous years the packs were available in Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom. ) As part of the launch, the brand is also announcing a partnership with GLAAD; during June, for every pack purchased, $1 will be donated to GLAAD ( up to $100,000 ).

The board of directors of San Francisco Pride announced the official program for Pride 50, bringing the nation's largest gathering of the LGBTQ+ community and allies completely online for its historic 50th anniversary, a press release stated. Taking place Saturday-Sunday, June 27-28, the festivities will include live performances, speeches from LGBTQ+ elected officials and thought leaders, highlights of the accomplishments of Pride's 2020 Community Grand Marshals and Honorees, conversations, reflections on 50 years of the Pride movement, a kickoff with Mayor London Breed, an LGBTQ senior prom and more. San Francisco Pride will also take part in Global Pride on Saturday, June 27.

The Capital Pride Alliance ( CPA ) and The DC Center for the LGBT Community ( The DC Center ) announced a special collaboration to maximize both organizations' ability to provide services and programming to the LGBTQ+ community, a press release noted. #StillWe is the community's theme for Pride 2020. This June and moving forward, CPA and The DC Center will be offering a variety of programming in partnership with LGBTQ+ organizations, small businesses and sponsors; these programs include, for example, monthly virtual town halls, expanded resources available on the organizations' websites and a shared community calendar.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany deflected questions about her opposition in 2015 to same-sex marriage, which at the time she said was driven by arguments based on "farcical blabber," The Washington Post reported. In response to questioning from the Washington Blade, McEnany asserted her prerogative as White House press secretary wasn't to discuss her personal views, but to serve as a spokesperson for President Trump.

People took to social media after Lucie's Place—a Little Rock, Arkansas, place for homeless LGBT young adults—made some significant changes, THV11.com reported. The main issue is the closure of the youth home; Lucie's Place Interim Executive Director Andrea Zekis said those seeking the organization's services started to feel unsafe. and they left, adding, "When you have a pandemic on top of that as well, and in an environment of lockdown with folks who may not be prepared to handle that ... you know, conversations should have happened much sooner."

In New York, WFUV Public Media is rolling out the new EQFM initiative, striving toward a goal of 50 percent representation of women and gender minorities in its music programming, events and online features, a press release noted. As part of the EQFM initiative—partly inspired by CMT's recent Equal Play initiative—WFUV is launching an on-air and online series that celebrates important, influential albums by women artists, while promoting the expertise of its female DJs and staffers. To kick off the initiative, WFUV will host an online panel discussion Tuesday, June 2, at 7 p.m. ET on the subject of gender equality within the music and radio industries.

CenterLink's board of directors appointed longtime staff member Denise Spivak as the organization's new chief executive officer, according to a press release. Spivak, a graduate of Gettysburg College, most recently served as CenterLink's interim CEO. Spivak has served in a number of roles at CenterLink—a member-based coalition that supports the development of strong, sustainable, LGBTQ community centers—over the last nine years, including director of member relations and external affairs, senior director of programs and outreach, and deputy director.

In New York, WABC-TV and the National Puerto Rican Day Parade ( NPRDP ) committee announced a virtual 90-minute community celebration taking place on Sunday, June 14, at noon, a press release noted. The program will be hosted by WABC-TV anchors Joe Torres and David Novarro along with Sunny Hostin, co-host of The View. Featured will be special appearances from community leaders like Luis Miranda Jr.; and Puerto Rican television, film and music luminaries, including award-winning actor, composer and lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda.

In Michigan, the Lansing sex complex Fantasies closed after police served a cease-and-desist letter from Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail for allegedly operating in violation of the governor's emergency orders on the coronavirus, LansingCityPulse.com reported. Vail said the retail portion of the business "hasn't been allowed to be open yet under the executive order [and] on top of that, there's a club in the back room which has been opening and there's a lot of close contact. No way they are six feet apart." Previously, Vail sent similar letters to Club Tabu, which caters primarily to gay men; the site is now closed.

Former Today co-host Matt Lauer published an op-ed in Mediaite that blasts Ronan Farrow's reporting for his book Catch and Kill, in which Farrow writes about former Today producer Brooke Nevil's claim that Lauer raped her, Deadline noted. ( His op-ed also comes in the wake of a column by the New York Times' Ben Smith that criticized aspects of Farrow's reporting. ) Farrow later tweeted, "All I'll say on this is that Matt Lauer is just wrong. Catch and Kill was thoroughly reported and fact-checked, including with Matt Lauer himself."


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